Why don’t you say what you really want?

Saturday evening, the first chance you get to have a normal conversation with someone without thinking about the constant tests, demands and social obligations you have to deal with through the week. It’s been long and stressful, and you hoped for a moment to be yourself around the people you chose to be close to, your real friends, who aren’t going to tell your supervisor if you fail to complete a task, but give you heartfelt advice on how you can manage things and make improvements in your life, depending on how you really feel about it. People to call you on your bullshit, people to curse with, people to tell your crazy stories to without a backlash from the universe, people to make memories and get wasted, have a laugh or a shoulder to cry on, who will make you see what really matters to look at and how you’re doing more than you should, but maybe less in some cases, which they’ll point out to push you to make a bigger effort. You’re not seeing them this weekend, cause it’s your cousin’s birthday, and you’re supposed to be there – everyone’s coming, you can’t miss it!

So you get up later than usual, have breakfast after noon and just lay in bed watching Netflix until it’s starting to get dark. You’ll call an Uber. Pick a shirt, take a quick shower and show up before everybody else. When the guests arrive, you’ll be having beer and sitting across the room. But there’s family, and you haven’t spoken in years. It’s hard to tell what people expect in this kind of situation, but maybe you should ask how they’re doing first, and they’ll probably follow with a question about you and your new projects, relationships or whatever. You can say something about the job interview you had last week or the book you started reading. They’ll have something to show you: travel pictures, a news article, a channel on YouTube. It really depends, and you actually have no idea how they spend their day or how they deal with technology, but that’s not the point. Suddenly, the moment you were dreading arrives with a question: “what about this corruption we’ve been seeing? The country’s going downhill with this party in power again, there’s got to be a way out”. How are you supposed to respond?

Most people agree that there’s a need to renew perspectives in politics, especially in terms of representation, with an eye to social justice and what can be done to make sure it’s part of the agenda, not just the campaign. Others will cringe at the very mention of terms they view as synonyms of a certain spectrum of influence, which might include opposition to mega corporations and their privileges, always proposing a reform of the financial system, but without a careful analysis of the implications. The thing with parties, though, is that you won’t even remember what you said or why you’re giving an opinion that nobody asked for, and if you think family isn’t part of that dynamics, you probably don’t know exactly what they think about the difficult issues.

This isn’t me trying to convince you that alcohol is best to squeeze opinions out of people or that avoiding debate is best in all circumstances. You really should learn how to defend a point of view, but also to respect people who think in a different way, because what’s obvious for you may not be for someone else with a different background. When it comes to family, all you can hope for is they do the same.